Golden Guides: I was absolutely obsessed with these things as a kid. And now, over a decade later, I find them again, only even cheaper than they were back then. Golden Guides were mini-encyclopedias geared for the nerd in all of us. I used to spend most of my time reading about gemstones and dreaming of someday unearthing ungodly amounts of sedimentary rock to get to a haven of quartz crystal. Sadly, they didn't have that book, so I settled for two others: the guide to fossils, and the guide to....TROPICAL FISH. I swear, when I finally put that little tank together, I'll be a sea life god. I'll be Neptune. King Neptune. Only I'll wear a shirt, since I'm Italian and I'm sick of having to shave everywhere all the time. If you're an enthusiast of this kinda stuff, I really suggest picking the books up - you can't believe how much excessively useless info they cram in 'em.
Power Rangers Peelable Paint: Subtitled 'art that looks like stained glass'. Seriously. The chances of me ever opening this are about the same as the chances of me growing giant antennae out of my head that can separate from my body at will and grow into triffids. Still, I had to buy it because I didn't think anyone would believe they existed without visual evidence. Essentially, you paint over clear sheets that have outlined Rangers. Then you cut them out. What fun! Score another one for parents looking for completely unfun ways to occupy their kids. This genre of toy has gone way downhill. They really need to bring back Shrinky Dinks - at least kids got to realize their dreams of using the oven with those. This Power Ranger peelpaint bullshit sounds a lot more fun on paper than it actually is, which isn't saying much at all, because even on paper, repeatedly hitting yourself on the foot with a hammer sounds like a better time.
Weird Floating Plane: Just for the Hell of it. Toy planes are cool, but you always feel cheating since everyone knows it's your arm handling the flying. Now, we can put that problem to rest - this time around, it's a plastic base handling the flying! Huzzah! If you tap the cockpit with your finger, it's bounce around like a plane-in-peril for a good 90 seconds. Stage your own air disaster for just 99 cents! I have no recollection of putting this in my cart, giving this particular plane a pretty creepy afterthought to cap off the ominous star stripe on the wings. Not sure what to make of it all, but at this point, the thing seems damn normal by comparison. WORMS!
Evolving Tadpole/Frog Set: Very cute, and very Darwin. I had this once before, but I lost it as it's impossible to keep track of plastic amphibians for any great length of time. The set includes a tadpole, a tadpole with legs that we'll call Johnny, and a frog who looks like it's about to throw up the entirety of it's insides. As if this wasn't cool enough, the frog squirts water. I don't understand how this one gets passed up on the 'hot Christmas gifts' lists every year, but it's a damn crime. Even the packaging is great, which describes what's in it in such a way that you'll swear they're trying to present these frogs as a jazz band. It's...THE SQUIRT FROG, with the Evolving Tadpoles! ::applause:: A+ on these guys - and just 1.29!
Ball of Index Fingers: They're incredibly phallic, but make no mistake, these are fingers. Really soft rubber fingers, about 15 of them, all compacted to form an almost-symmetrical ball of unseen pleasure. Much better than those other office desk stress relievers on the market, and you won't have to pay 15 dollars for it either. Words can't describe what the rubber feels like...these things are almost liquid. A great conversational piece, too. Whip these out in front of your friends and try telling me they won't want to discuss them for a good ten minutes. Who knew balls of fingers could be such an icebreaker? AS&S!
Silly Red Notebooks: Grade 3 Composition notebooks. Third graders are lucky, they get their own special marble notebooks - only these have flexible covers, and are red! Great for jotting down your daily thoughts, or just playing Tic-Tac-Toe. These are just one of the many fine notebook varieties AS&S supplies - they range from the standard black to the ridiculous dinosaur-covered, but they're all full of paper, so what's in a cover? I had intended on writing most of this article in the red notebooks on the plane ride home, but unfortunately I was sat next to this strange woman who took a really disturbing interest in everything I was doing. Every time I adjusted my seat, she'd stare at me for 5 minutes straight. Finally, I learned to just never move my seat. It was like some odd psychology experiment. Thank god I found salvation hiding my face in the pages of Mick Foley's latest autobiography. Foley is Good.
Prehistoric World Poster: Modeled by X-E site designer, Blacksuns, this poster is your quickest way to learn the evolutionary history of the biggest lizards in history. Folded nicely and just 20 cents! I can't seem to bring myself to tack this one up on the wall, but it'll make a great tablecover the next time I'm painting. Which will be soon, since I bought a model tarantula set there too. I told you, the place has everything. Oddly enough, amongst the many dinosaurs found on the poster, there seems to be one killer whale roaming the lake. I don't know how to explain that, but it tells the tale on how the poster ended up there. Also, note the final stage of evolution: human monkeys! This is the only print I've seen that's managed to mix every stage of life on this planet in one seamless display. The jury's still out on whether or not that's a good thing.
Patriotic 3-D Glasses: Modeled by the lovely Meenk, these things may look dumb, but they're a great way to enhance the effects of alcohol. They add weird colorful lights to everything you look at. Not exactly a 3-D effect, but for 99 cents, it's all good. I'd also like to take this time to mention that I've been working on this article for 17 hours now, 15 of which was spent wearing that exact pair of 3-D glasses. I keep entering this mental limbo with 'em on. If that's your bag, pick these up, it's a hell of a lot safer than the other methods available to induce hallucinations. They're also great because now we can all watch Jaws III the way we were supposed to. With stupid, cardboard glasses on.
Amazing Bat on a Pole Thing: Plastic bats have been a Halloween staple for years, but it's only recently that they've been improved on: now you can make your toy bats move, with the help of a grossly overstated and also-plastic grey axle system that lets the bat fly up almost 9 inches! Glory be! It's also interesting that this isn't really a bad - it looks more like a mouse super-enhanced with metal wings. Now it's even cooler than before - bats on a stick is one thing, but cyborg mice on a stick? Incredible. I think Steve ended up taking this baby home to Troma Studios. If we're lucky, it'll soon be up on their webcam with a penis Photoshop'd into it's mouth. if not, there's a good chance you'll land one of these from their mail order catalog. If you don't, there's no reason to be disappointed: it's a very crappy, stupid item that nobody should ever lay out money for. Much like everything else I spent my entire live savings on this weekend.
Dangling Spider Monkey: Rubber monkeys! Rubber spider monkeys! Rubber spider monkeys on a cord! Hang it from your rearview, wear it as a bracelet...no matter what you do with it, there's nothing on the planet quite like a 6" soft rubber spider monkey who bears a striking resemblance to DEATH itself. Check out that cold stare. Don't let that fool you, this monkey is almost overly gregarious, bringing cheer to anyone who touches it and most who don't. My only regret is that I didn't buy the other colors they had available - again, ranging from normal monkey colors to others that no monkey would be caught dead in. I think these were two bucks, which is steep by AS&S standards but cheap everywhere else. Now you can be Ross from Friends with your very own virtual Marcel! I'm also real appreciative that they posed this monkey in attack-mode. True to life. No genitals though. Not true to life, but much more PG.
Giant Fat Albert Lightbulb: This light bulb didn't need to be giant, didn't need to cast a weird luminescent glow on the room, didn't even need to work to get me to spend five bucks on it. All it had to do was be named after Fat Albert. Checkmate. Those Canadians really know how to make their illumination stable, as I must've dropped this thing 13 times and it still works. Hey Hey Hey, this light bulb can turn a freaking football stadium into the set of Solid Gold. That wraps up most of my AS&S finds - there's some others, but they're truly too indescribable for me to even entertain the thought of writing about them. But wait, there's more! One last thing...one last special thing. And it ain't worms.